Sister Helen Prejean has a thing for killers.  Of what, precisely, does that make her an expert?

Sister Helen Prejean, of Dead Man Walking and other media confections, is in the news again, this time testifying on behalf of convicted Boston Marathon killer Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Prejean’s schtick consists of seeking out notorious killers to “spiritually counsel” — always with the cameras rolling, that is.  The only thing Prejean loves more than private time with sadistic murderers and rapists is television reporters covering her doing it.

So what, precisely, makes her an expert witness about anything other than her own sick hobby?  Why does the reflexively anti-religious media suddenly find religion when this spiritual fraud comes calling to report on how she peered into another killer’s soul?


Helen Prejean, the Way She Likes It.  Outside the Boston Trial.

Helen Prejean’s credibility doesn’t get questioned enough in polite company because most decent people would rather quietly look away when someone like Prejean inserts herself into other people’s suffering.  Others naively — or enthusiastically, depending on their politics — buy into Prejean’s self-serving claims of being a spiritual leader.

But, considering her friends in Hollywood, her track record of denying the suffering of victims of horrific crimes, and her ugly habit of attacking victims who do not submit to her agenda, it is important that somebody do the job the media refuses to do: reveal the deceptions behind Prejean’s soul-seeing racket.

A distinctive pattern rules every script Prejean offers to the press.  By the time she is done inventing a fake story out of a real crime, she is the story’s hero; the killer is the victim, and the real victims and their survivors are scapegoated as vengeful and hate-filled — unless they agree to endorse Prejean’s worldview vigorously, in which case they are granted special dispensation for the crime of existing while victimized.

In the case of unruly or otherwise inconvenient victims, Prejean simply writes their existence and/or their suffering out of the script all together, as she and her collaborators Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon did with several of the victims and survivors in the “true” film Dead Man Walking.

This is known as “cleansing the historical record” or just “historical denial.”  But no matter what you call it, Prejean’s denigration of crime victims and attraction to vicious killers and rapists ought to exclude her from putting her hand on the Bible and “expert witnessing” about anyone’s soul, including her own.

Now Prejean is lying about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s purported remorse, just as she fabricated the alleged remorse of the murderer depicted in Dead Man Walking, Robert Lee Willie.

The New York Times has helped Helen Prejean spread such lies for decades.  The Times coverage in Boston was no exception.  First they set the stage by presenting Prejean as a modest religious delivering a crucial message from Tsarnaev:

BOSTON — Wearing street clothes, a silver cross dangling from her neck, Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and prominent opponent of the death penalty, testified on Monday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted Boston Marathon bomber, had expressed sympathy for his victims.

“He said emphatically, ‘No one deserves to suffer like they did,’ ” she testified.

Asked how his voice sounded as he spoke, Sister Prejean, 76, said: “It had pain in it, actually, when he said what he did about ‘nobody deserves that.’

Note that we only have Prejean’s word that this exchange even took place, let alone what Tsarnaev meant.

The remorse scene she’s best know for, presented as fact in the movie Dead Man Walking,  is an abject misrepresentation of what killer Robert Lee Willie actually did to his murdered victims, to the families of his murdered victims, and to the surviving victims of his crimes.  He sneered at them in the death chamber; he mocked the survivors he had slashed and beaten to a state of brain damage; in the courtroom, he reveled in the details of slitting a woman’s throat while raping her.

But in order to promote Helen Prejean as a celebrity expert witness on murderer’s souls, Prejean herself, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins erased some of these victims and their families from the story and eliminated the facts about the way Robert Lee Willie actually behaved.

Yes, Dead Man Walking is just a movie — but that is not the way it was promoted, and a lot of people believe it is true, a belief bolstered by Prejean’s nonstop self-promotion, speeches and tours. The “jailhouse conversion” and other scenes in Dead Man Walking are based on Prejean’s allegedly non-fiction book of the same name: the story is her version of events, starring her; the lies are her lies — and creepily, very creepily, what comes out through her words and through the movie is that Prejean seems aroused by her proximity, not only to rapists and murderers, but the the most heinous rapists and murderers she can find.

Robert Lee Willie (depicted by Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking) and his criminal partner Joseph V. Vaccaro were extreme torture-killers: one of their victims, Faith Hathaway, begged for her life as they raped her and cut off her fingers.  Finally she begged to die, only to listen to her killers complain that “the bitch wouldn’t die.”


From Police Detective Varnado: A young girl by the name of Faith Hathaway had been kidnapped in Mandeville… Robert L. Willie and Joseph Vaccaro — kidnapped the girl outside of a local lounge there. And they brought her up here. They raped her …blindfolded her and they beat her up… raped her and beat her, kicked her some more…The girl was spread out, spread eagle, flat on her back, completely nude. Her legs were stretched as wide as they could go and her arms were held up above her head like this and her head was cocked back and her mouth was wide opened….The first thing that hit my mind is I said, ‘My god this woman was screaming when she died.’ … I went and interviewed the suspects and …they had jugged her is the word they used, cut her throat and jugged her, and kept jugging her and there was a massive wound … I believe it was her left hand where the fingers were cut off. When she grabbed the knife… they ripped it back out and it severed her fingers. … Her arms are way up over her head where it was so obvious from what had happened to her that somebody had held her hands down above her head. …and what had happened is one person was holding her arms up over her head and the other person was stabbing her while he was between her legs. … He told me that Joe’s last words to her were ‘This bitch won’t die, this whore won’t die’ as he kept jugging her. ….the lady at some point told them “please just let me go and die by myself. You all just leave and let me go and let me die by myself” ….she was trying to wiggle around while she was saying it so he said I held her hands and said come on now behave.
If the victims’ families had not spoken out exposing Prejean’s fantasies, she would probably still be insisting the movie was factual today.

And even after the victims’ families spoke out, Prejean went on to make an even more grotesque musical (yes, musical) version of Dead Man Walking that openly cast murderers as Christ-figures crucified by society and by vengeful crime victims — and redeemed (surprise!) only by a nun’s saintly love.

This is the caliber of witness the defense used in court.  Realistically, would Prejean have been trotted out in this high-profile trial were it not for her radical Hollywood pals and the utterly dishonest Dead Man Walking?  The shame lies with the court.  Letting this woman close the trial in Boston made the denouement of the OJ Simpson trial seem dignified.

Helen Prejean’s lies about Robert Lee Willie’s “jailhouse conversion” matters because those lies comprise her entire reputation; they are her sole claim to being an expert witness who matters; they are the very reason she was used by the defense in Tsarnaev’s case.

Her credibility on the subject of ethics in the aftermath of crime does not stand up to even mild scrutiny: it’s a good thing for her that there is no such scrutiny.

Prejean’s entire record of past testimony and personal conduct needs to be evaluated, but who would do it?  The ABA uses attorneys’ professional fees to promote people like Prejean and her radical causes.  The Daubert Test for expert witness credibility doesn’t, to me, seem to apply here, though I’d be happy to hear from those who know more about this.  The media is not interested in . . . reporting.

So what we get is this celebrity nun preening for the microphones, offering hearsay that makes the front page of the New York Times because she hobnobs with Susan Sarandon, who named her own child after Jack Abbot, a vicious killer Sarandon helped spring from prison — and continued supporting him after he killed again, which he told her he would do.

Given the role of murderer fetishists like Sarandon and Prejean in the post-conviction clemency movement (a fellow activist with ties to both is terrorist cop-killer Bernardine Dohrn, who was involved with another nun in trying to spring rapist-murderer Humberto Leal), it’s too bad our justice system places any weight on “jailhouse conversions” in the first place, but in sentencing, they do.

Unfortunately, with the justice system (and mainstream media) we have, what the man who raped and killed your daughter says or does not say to the chattering nun visiting him in prison actually matters in courtrooms.  This is why the defense parachutes in Prejean to work her magic and coax out a few words of sorrow from some blood-drenched psychopath — or in the absence of success, just make the words up. Or feel them.  Or, something.

For, like Robert Lee Willie, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev does not appear to have actually expressed remorse for killing and maiming scores of victims.

You wouldn’t know this, though, from glancing at the headline in the Times, which reads: “Tsarnaev Expressed Sympathy for Boston Bombing Victims, Sister Helen Prejean Says.”  Nice touch there at the end: it cuts slack for Times editors who might otherwise have to take responsibility for what they publish.

Instead, Prejean and her Times accommodators wrestle journalistic ambiguity to slot the nun’s words into the place of Tsarnaev’s nonexistent remorse.  You have to read a bit carefully to see there’s no there there.

Predictable, Prejean starts with her favorite subject, herself:

Describing five meetings that she has had with the defendant since March at the defense team’s request, Sister Prejean portrayed Mr. Tsarnaev as respectful and receptive to her, even though he had probably never met a Catholic nun before.

Well isn’t that nice?  Tea and cookies and the front page of the Times.  Always the front page with this one.  Slip in a cultural diversity cheer for Tsarnaev — look, he respects nuns even though he’s probably never met a nun before, according to Prejean, even though he’s lived in Boston for decades, and went to something called Latin School, and UMass Dartmouth, and doesn’t even have an accent, according to his friends.

Yet according to the Times/slash/Prejean, we’re supposed to think at this point that he is some poor befuddled immigrant who doesn’t know up from down, or nuts from berries, or nuns from Shinola.  Prejean sang the very same tune with Humberto Leal, who had lived in the United States continually from the age of 2 but was suddenly a Mexican National the minute he got convicted in Texas for torturing a gang rape victim to death with a stick.

Besides, Helen, it not really about how he treats you, right?

No word on whether Prejean was attracted to him, as she has crudely hinted of other vicious killers — rapists in particular.  People do get better at spinning their own garbage the longer they’re in the media’s eye.

Prejean claims in the Times to have sensed “pain” in Tsarnaev’s voice: “I had every reason to think he was taking it in and he was genuinely sorry for what he did,” she said.  In other words, he didn’t really say that he felt pain,

Crime victims, in Helen Prejean’s moral universe, may as well have a scarlet “V” tattooed on their foreheads: “V” for vengeance, not victim.  Victims are “vengeful” if they are not forgiving in just the right way, and only people like Prejean can judge whether crime victims or their survivors have appropriately prostrated themselves before the criminals who have tortured them or murdered their loves ones.

The “V” word — mostly imagined or projected — is the sole sin in the church of Prejean.  One can only hope that the jurors in Boston took her testimony with all the seriousness it merited — which is to say none at all.

In Helen Prejean’s moral universe, which is shared by many others, victims are “vengeful” if they are not forgiving in just the right way, and only people like Prejean can judge whether crime victims or their survivors have appropriately prostrated themselves before the criminals who have tortured them or murdered their loves ones. The “V” word — vengeance, mostly imagined or projected — is the sole sin in the church of Prejean. One can only hope that the jurors in Boston took her testimony with all the seriousness it merited — which is to say none at all.

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